It’s easy to take Southern Star Brewing for granted. The Houston-area brewery— in Conroe to be precise — was founded in 2008 and has always fallen a bit under the radar. In North Texas in particular, its beers have been available the whole time, but don’t seem to engender the fervent following or conversation like those of other Houston-area breweries like Saint Arnold or Karbach.
Despite all that, its mainstays of Pine Belt Pale Ale, Bombshell Blonde and Buried Hatchet Stout are familiar to most anyone who seeks out good beers. Those three beers have been consistently well-made from the beginning and continue to be popular.
If you keep an eye on store shelves, you’ll also have noticed that Southern Star has diversified its portfolio incrementally to a point that the brewery many times has five or more beers available. Conspiracy Theory IPA is now part of the year-round lineup, and a rotation of seasonal and speciality cans is available at various times.
Winter Warmer is its current seasonal offering and delivers exactly what you want in a beer with this name.
Interestingly enough, “winter warmer” isn’t so much a style as it is a description of dark, roasty ales that aren’t quite dense or robust enough to push into porter or stout territory. Locals are probably most familiar with Rahr & Son’s iteration as well the bourbon barrel-aged version.
Winter warmers can vary from being dark and holiday spiced to reddish brown and sweet.
Southern Star’s Winter Warmer is a ruby-brown beer that falls on the lighter side of the spectrum. Its caramel and dark fruit flavors dance nicely with malty sweetness and a light amount of spice. It won’t warm you up like some beers of similar ilk — it’s only 7 percent ABV — but its flavors are certainly winter appropriate.
Perhaps the one reason this beer might not come immediately to mind is the packaging. An almost solid chocolate-brown can design means its presence on a shelf among other eye-catching beers puts Winter Warmer at a disadvantage. Keep your eye open for this one, as it’s definitely worth a try. Especially if (when) its gets cold again
Rep. Romero introduces crowler bill: After a notable lawsuit last year between Cuvee Coffee Bar in Austin and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, it appeared crowlers—32-ounce cans filled and sealed for to-go consumption — were back in the game for growler-filling bars and restaurants. Although courts ruled in favor of Cuvee, that lawsuit still isn’t fully settled and some questions exist about when and how things will change.
That’s where state Rep. Ramon Romero of Fort Worth sees an ability to help finally put an end to the debate. House Bill 908, which was filed by Romero’s office Tuesday, seeks to formally legalize crowlers for good.
“I filed this bill to continue my ongoing work of promoting and empowering small businesses. As a small business owner myself, I know intimately the need to profit from investments made,” Romero said in a written statement. “This common-sense solution will ensure filling a glass vessel with beer is no different than filling an aluminum vessel with beer.”